Family Law London Blog
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Nagalro, the Professional Association for Children's Guardians, Family Court Advisers and Independent Social Workers, has recently published details of its submission to the All Party Parliamentary Group on Child Protection on how children will be affected by the government's proposed reforms of the family courts.
Nagalro's submission relates to three main areas:
- the plan to reduce court scrutiny of children's care plans;
- the impact of the proposal to limit care proceedings cases to six months, and
- how to ensure that decisions taken are in the best interests of children.
Nagalro has welcomed the Government's commitment to ensuring that both parents can continue to be involved in a child's life after separation, but does not believe that the legislative options proposed by the Government are the best way of achieving this aim. Nagalro would prefer to see the change be driven by a focus on children's welfare, rather than on the rights of parents.
Nagalro would like to see more opportunities for children's voices to be heard in private law cases, and greater support for both parents and children going through separation or divorce.
The Law Commission has published a supplementary consultation paper on needs and non-matrimonial property.
The consultation is seeking views on two specific aspects of the law relating to financial provision on divorce:
- to what extent one spouse should be required to meet the other’s financial needs, and what exactly is meant by needs; and
- what happens to property that one of the partners owned before the relationship or acquired during the course of it.
Launching the consultation, Law Commissioner Professor Elizabeth Cooke said:
“When two people bring their marriage or civil partnership to an end it is vital that the law is able to help them resolve their financial arrangements as quickly and fairly as possible. The current law creates too much potential for uncertainty and inconsistency. We are seeking consultees’ views on a range of short- and long-term reforms, with the aim of bringing as much certainty as possible to this difficult area of law.”
Contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v1.0.
A recent study has found that disputes over household chores comes closely after infidelity and drifting apart in the list of reasons why UK couples get divorced, reports the Daily Mail.
The research, carried out by Vileda, found that 56% of people polled thought disputes over normal domestic chores played a major part in their decision to separate. Items left lying around the house was the most common cause of argument (26%), followed by partners 'not pulling their weight' and not doing the washing up.
Lindsey Taylor, brand manager for Vileda, said: 'There may be another major reason behind a break-up, such as money worries or drifting apart, but it can be the little rows over things like washing up that can help tip rowing couples over the edge,' reports the Daily Mail.
A recent study from America has found that modern technology such as email, texts or social media can be an effective method of communication for separating or divorcing couples, but can also be open to abuse.
Researchers at the University of Missouri interviewed divorced parents about the state of their relationship with their ex-partner. They found that parents whose relationship was generally cooperative found communication technology a useful way of sharing information about their children. However, couples that had a hostile relationship used the technology to manipulate their ex-partner, for example by pretending not to have received emails.
“Parents who are hostile need to set their feelings aside and understand that they need to communicate effectively in order to protect the emotional well-being of their children,” said Lawrence Ganong, a professor of human development and family studies at MU. “Email is a great resource for hostile parents who can’t talk face-to-face. They can communicate essential information while editing what they say to avoid conflict. Also, the parents have a record of what was agreed upon.”
Domestic violence charity, Refuge, has claimed that proposed changes to benefit rules will lead to the closure of all of its refuge centres, reports the BBC. As a result, warns Refuge, thousands of victims of domestic violence will be at increased risk.
According to the BBC, the charity claims that two women a week die as a result of domestic violence, and this figures will rise if support services are forced to close. Similar concerns have also been raised by charity Women's Aid.
The charities are concerned about how Housing Benefit will be calculated when it it is incorporated within the new, combined benefit, Universal Credit, which is due to come into force next year.
According to the BBC, the Government has denied the claims and said that funding for refuges will continue to be available under the new benefit system.
The Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme is being piloted by police in Gwent and Wiltshire.
The scheme gives women the right to ask the police whether a new or existing partner has a violent past. If police checks show that a person may be at risk of domestic violence from their partner, the police will consider disclosing the information.
Under the scheme women will have the right to ask the police whether a new or existing partner has a violent past. If police checks show that a person may be at risk of domestic violence from their partner, the police will consider disclosing the information.
The pilot will also look at how the police can proactively release information to protect a person from domestic violence where it is lawful, necessary and proportionate to do so.
Calls for the introduction of a national disclosure scheme gained momentum following the tragic case of Clare Wood, who was murdered by her former partner in Greater Manchester in 2009. Her partner had three previous convictions under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997.
The pilot scheme follows a successful public consultation which received more than 250 responses from a wide range of high profile statutory and voluntary organisations.
The Association of Chief Police Officers' lead on domestic abuse, Chief Constable Carmel Napier, said: 'A key part of policing is to protect people from harm. The Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme is intended to empower people to make informed decisions to protect themselves and their children when getting involved with a new partner.
'It will also allow the police to act in the best interests of people they believe could be at risk of violence by sharing information of a partners' violent past.'
The Government has announced the establishment of a new fund, worth up to £14 million over two years, to develop effective and innovative support services for separated and separating families.
The new services will help parents to foster collaborative relationships with each other after separation, including agreeing child maintenance.
Work and Pensions Minister Maria Miller said:
“If separation is unavoidable then having both parents actively involved in their lives is the best way for children to develop. So this is a challenge for organisations and individuals to suggest how we can make this important investment in families really count.”
The announcement reaffirms the Coalition Government’s commitment to shared parenting which also includes changes to the family justice system and an overhaul of the child maintenance system to see parents supported to make their own, family-based, child maintenance arrangements whenever possible.
The Child Support Agency currently costs the taxpayer approximately £0.5 billion per annum. Department for Work and Pensions research has suggested that the majority of separated parents currently using the CSA believe they would be likely to make their own maintenance arrangements with the right help and support.
A recent poll of divorce lawyers in America has revealed a growth in the number of women paying alimony and child support over the past three years.
The survey, by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML), found that 56% of respondents reported seeing an increase in the number of mothers paying child support, while 47% also note a rise in women being responsible for alimony following divorce.
Ken Altshuler, president of the AAML, commented:
"The court system always ends up reflecting changes in our society and this is certainly the case with issues regarding who pays child support and alimony. As more women achieve success on their career paths, they are also finding themselves increasingly responsible for financial obligations during and after the divorce process."